Is a Communist Party cell a new must-have for Chinese start-ups? Emily Feng, the FT’s Beijing correspondent, says she’s seen it becoming more common over the past five years for even private companies to have a party cell within the business, a sign of the Communist party’s growing influence over all aspects of life in China.
At Xu Zewei’s fintech start-up, 91Finance, members are called “shining talents”, and the company holds meetings to persuade employees to join the party. “It has been very good for corporate development,” says Mr Xu. A strong Communist party affiliation, he says, means that “supervisory bodies and clients have more trust in our work.”
Mr Xu’s start-up journey has been one of ups and downs. The Chinese fintech sector started growing rapidly in 2013 but gained a poor reputation following a number of scandals. Government regulation, starting in 2016, has helped rebuild trust, and there are a large number of investors interested in funding start-ups. When Mr Xu was raising his second financing round he met with 169 investors.
“Only two people wanted to invest in me. So I was rejected 167 times. But the fact that I could meet more than 100 investors was good,” he says.
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